Best rum distillery in the Caribbean: Barbancourt Rum Distillery

Casa Bacardí, River Antoine Rum Distillery, Topper's Rhum Distillery and Distillerie J.M. also winners

If there's one thing the Caribbean is known for as much as its beaches, it's its rum. The spirit was first distilled on the islands during the 17th century when sugar plantation slaves discovered molasses – a byproduct of the refining process – could be fermented into alcohol. Caribbean rum producers have spent the centuries since perfecting the process of distillation, aging and blending, and many of the world's best rums come from the Caribbean.

  • Westerhall Estate
    Grenada

    While Westerhall Estate was growing sugarcane, coconuts, limes and cocoa during the 1800s, the focus has since shifted to producing rum. An on-site museum includes exhibits on the estate ruins, sugar refining machinery and memorabilia from journalist Dr. Alistair Hughes. 
    Photo courtesy of Justin Otto / Flickr

  • Mount Gay Rum
    Barbados

    At the Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre in Barbados, the colorful history of the world's oldest rum comes to life. In operation since 1703, the distillery in St. Lucy Parish includes both historic and modern equipment, as well as a duty-free store for purchasing rum and other souvenirs.
    Photo courtesy of anax44 / Flickr

  • The Cadushy Distillery
    Bonaire

    Founded in 2009 as Bonaire's first and only distillery, The Cadushy Distillery not only produces rum, but also cactus vodka, the first Caribbean whiskey, tequila and a series of liqueurs inspired by the island's Dutch Caribbean heritage. A shady courtyard serves as the tasting room for sampling the myriad spirits.
    Photo courtesy of The Cadushy Distillery

  • Habitation Clément
    Martinique

    Martinique's colonial past has close ties to sugar and rum production, and visitors learn all about this history during an audio tour of Habitation Clément. Besides learning about rum production, visitors walk away with a better understanding of what plantation life was like during the island's colonial days.
    Photo courtesy of Gaël Chardon / Flickr

  • Appleton Estate
    Jamaica

    Appleton Estate, Jamaica's largest and oldest distillery, produced its first batch of rum in 1749. Today the estate welcomes visitors to tour the facilities, learn how the rum is produced and sample some of Appleton's 17 varieties of rum. A well-stocked gift shop at the end of the tour gives ample opportunity for adult souvenirs. 
    Photo courtesy of bjoern / Flickr

  • Distillerie J.M.
    Martinique

    Rhum JM is distilled on the site of a sugar plantation and refinery on the Roche River founded by the Jesuit missionary Pére Labat during the 17th century. Set at the foot of Martinique's Mont Pelèe volcano, Distillerie J.M. makes its rums with estate-grown sugarcane. Visitors can learn more about the process at the distillery's high-tech exhibits, then enjoy a complimentary tasting.
    Photo courtesy of Ron Dollete / Flickr

  • Topper's Rhum Distillery
    Sint Maarten

    Visitors to this 6,000-square-foot facility in Sint Maarten gain insight into the history of rum-making while seeing the blending and bottling process firsthand. Visitors also get to sample new flavors in development, along with the full lineup of artisan rums, in the tasting bar. Those who'd like to take some Topper's home can even bottle their own.
    Photo courtesy of Topper's Rhum Distillery / Facebook

  • River Antoine Rum Distillery
    Grenada

    River Antoine Rum Distillery in Grenada produces rum the same way it once did when it first opened in 1785. The privately owned distillery, the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery in the Caribbean, offers inexpensive tours where guests can sample the potent overproof rum, sold only in Grenada.
    Photo courtesy of Mark Rogers for USA TODAY

  • Casa Bacardí
    Puerto Rico

    While the world's most iconic rum brand got its start in Cuba more than a hundred years ago, Casa Bacardi began operations in Puerto Rico in 1936. Visitors can choose between historical, rum tasting or mixology tours to learn more about the past, present and future of the Cathedral of Rum.
    Photo courtesy of Serge Melki / Flickr

  • Barbancourt Rum Distillery
    Haiti

    Nestled among the sugarcane fields north of the airport in Port-Au-Prince, Barbancourt Rum Distillery offers weekly tours of its facility, giving visitors insight in to the distillation and aging processes. The tour culminates in a tasting of the popular Estate Reserve rum, aged for 15 years.
    Photo courtesy of Rhum Barbancourt / Facebook

The top 10 winners in the category Best Caribbean Rum Distillery are as follows:

  1. Barbancourt Rum Distillery - Haiti
  2. Casa Bacardí - Puerto Rico
  3. River Antoine Rum Distillery - Grenada
  4. Topper's Rhum Distillery - Sint Maarten
  5. Distillerie J.M. - Martinique
  6. Appleton Estate - Jamaica
  7. Habitation Clément - Martinique
  8. The Cadushy Distillery - Bonaire
  9. Mount Gay Rum - Barbados
  10. Westerhall Estate - Grenada

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (JetSetSarah.com) and Melanie Reffes were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of Caribbean travel.

Congratulations to all these winning disilleries!

A note on Irma and Maria: The 2017 hurricane season greatly impacted the Caribbean, with hurricanes Irma and Maria leaving destruction in their wakes. Where some islands were able to bounce back quickly, recovery continues on others. Each of our nominees in this contest is either currently open to visitors or has an expected opening date in 2018.

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

Alert The Experts

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

Melanie Reffes

Melanie Reffes